Photo Phriday- creative style

I have always liked the idea if the SticKids program for making sensory plans and handouts, and now I actually get to use it! While I do have some issues with how the SticKids software works, I still think they make my job easier with the products I can create for students. Sometimes though, only your own picture will do. (this was an activity we had safety tested in the classroom)


Photo Phriday: Mat Man

I love the Handwriting Without Tears products (fortunately my district has plenty) and the concept of Mat Man particularly. I think there is a huge advantage to be gained in spatial awareness, prewriting, and body awareness from teaching Mat Man. There's even a cute online game that even includes the song (requires a free login). I've used the manipulatives and drawing sheets for individuals and groups of preschoolers this fall.

Here's some photo results from kids who used the manipulatives or interactive game first and drew pictures onto frames second. I love the repetition to cement the ideas, and the progressively more empty drawing frames to chain the task.

This drawing is by a child with autism in a 3 year old classroom with just a few prompts for parts. She drew fingers independently. She so often refuses to attempt anything on paper or try anything herself but she loved doing her drawing on her own. I enjoyed the pig nose and muppet eyes, personally.

This one is by a little 4 year old with autism in a special education classroom. He had a couple of cues as well and could write his name on the back too.

This one is by a 5 year old in general education preschool. I only interfered after he drew the first hand. Undoubtedly, this Mat Man will be an excellent piano player.

This one may be my favorite, just because I know the child. He is a 4 year old with autism and severe behavioral issues in a special education class. He loved building the Mat Man and worked really hard to make it match the picture perfectly. And he drew this with only cues for ears. Granted, he has fingers without hands, but I think this is pretty stunning given that he previously would not copy a circle. It was so great to see him calm, happy, and attentive throughout the activity, and he was proud of his work.

I was really pleased with the reception that the Mat Man activity had with the kids, and also with the results. Not everyone had such terrific results, but all these are after one session only, and I think there is great face validity to the concept.


Simulations of Learning Disabilities

It can be very difficult to understand what it's like for a child with a learning disability to participate in classroom activities, especially for a child who can't articulate all they are dealing with. I find it hard sometimes to plan treatments for kids to address some compensation methods or remediation of skills since I am still getting my feet wet. It's also hard to see preschoolers with simultaneous severe physical, visual, and communication impairments as they struggle to pick up on concepts such as identifying themselves, choosing an object, using a switch, etc. Some kids work EXTRA hard to learn, and if you were a good student and good at understanding the system (playing the game, as my Dad said) it's hard to see how something so easy for you can be so hard for someone else. So I encourage you to explore these sites' simulations a bit and try to work through the trials they have set up. Honestly, I could not make it through many of the sections. Just a short exercise to better understand struggling learners- appropriate for teenagers and older.

PBS Site for Misunderstood Minds. Thanks to Teaching Every Student for the link.

Children's Vision Network site for Vision and Reading


Photo Phriday!

So I finally got some pictures off my phone! Here are some OT-related pics that you may find amusing.

It's totally unnecessary for parents to tally scoresheets themselves, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it!

Can you tell this backpack belongs to a pediatric OT? This is an awesome dragon puppet that has a multitude of fasteners along his tail. Everyone loves Danny Dragon.

This is a shot of the beading dowel. The little guy who did this had no problem matching colors but was just randomly lucky on getting the right shape (30% or less, all trials. Pretty sure that was the only purple bead too).

This is a picture that the students made after reading "Dog's Colorful Day" where Dog encounters 1 different colored blob during each part of the adventure. Can you tell which child worked on her picture as part of an OT session? And also had a bit of a perseveration problem? lol


Visual Motor Freebie

I found this I Spy sheet on Scribd which can be downloaded for free. Some of the images are a little odd, but whatever. I added a document on Google Docs (here) which has a list of the items in the sheet (notations about which ones look a little odd and might be hard to identify) and has a few searches listed out to better make it into an activity. There's a screen to check the 4 quadrants, a listing of animals, and a few common letters listed out.

Happy visual hunting!


Moving into winter

I'm coming up on my third month of being a school therapist and a homeowner, and had a few other interesting things happen recently. Here's a bit of a recap.

I was feeling very over my head in the past 2 months about the conference presentations I had applied to do. I had my usual procrastination battles and feelings of not being qualified for one reason or another, really kinda getting down about it all. In summary, I was a lot more excited about presenting when I signed up in the spring than when it came time to present in the fall. But things turned around and I think they both went over well. I talked about some options when beginning a pediatric practice in a hospital based on my Baltimore experience getting mentored in the NICU, newborn nursery, pediatrics and antepartum units. I had a crowd of mostly students but there was some interest. I felt kinda old since there were a number of students from my alma mater and I knew none of them, though there was a "small world" I-know-who-you-know moment.

Second presentation was meant to be more of a discussion on social media tools and ethics than an actual presentation. I was expecting 10 or less and I think there were about 30 by the time we ended- it definitely changes the dynamics of your discussion. Based on the audience, we covered things on a much more basic level than I had intended, and it would have been better received with more in-depth time to cover the basics. My favorite tools are in the Google brand of (free) products so if you want to get started in social media and exploring the online world, that's my first suggestion. Get yourself a gmail account and then we'll move from there. And for social media with other OTs, you can't beat OTConnections (also free).<

The final presentation (AOTA '12 !!) is just in the beginning stages right now. I was a little stressed prior to our first discussion (coordinating 5 people across a continent does seem challenging!) but now I think that things will fall into place. I'm excited because we will all get to talk about our specialties and favorite online tools, the "why bother" of social media and what we're passionate about. I also think there will be some good ethical discussions and that is interesting in its own right. We used a Google+ hangout to video chat, which worked really well.

I've been getting used to the school system job, and it has been going pretty well. I have been working primarily with preschoolers, most of whom are in a special education classroom. I feel like things have worked out so well in the past few months. The caseload was very manageable, which was great since I am new to the school system and both IEP and IFSP thinking. I have been privileged to get to spend a lot of time in class with 2 superb special ed teachers who truly love what they do and are excellent at it. I've learned a lot from them and it's been great to be able to push-in for most of those treatments. I'm really going to miss the group of teachers, IAs, and kids that I've gotten so attached to. So I'll be leaving this group and getting older kids with regimented treatment times and all pull outs in the next 2 weeks. I'm trying to build up a good supply of activities for a group that is not so easily entertained by blocks and construction paper.
I hope to get a pinterest account soon to more easily share some of the resources I find- I think that will be a better medium than twitter has been. I love the visuals. (Here are a few cool OT-related pin boards to get you interested if you haven't been over there yet: Funkist, Your therapy source, pediastaff)

So I'll be unpacking and repacking a therapy bag (they gave us rolling duffels, which I think is cool). That means cleaning out the Handwriting Without Tears manipulatives (maybe, have to check ages of kids), the switch toys, the tactile puzzles, the nesting blocks and maybe some of the chewelry. In their place, I can add in some tinier toys for advanced fine and visual motor skills, some things I've made from File Folder Fun, and lots of paper. I'm trying not to freak out about January where there are 3 Mondays without school, the month-ish when I'll be covering 2 caseloads at the same time, or April where there is spring break plus AOTA plus possibly NBCOT. Trying not to freak out, but getting pretty anxious anyway. Change is hard.

I have been using the IPad off and on, we only have 20 apps but I hope to have a review of those soon. I also put some free apps on my Android phone so when I get to do an app entry, I will be able to touch a little on both platforms. There will also be an upcoming entry where I can share some of my phone photos I've taken, mostly of the Mat Men kids have drawn.

We're getting ready for the Maryland legislative session to start again in January, our annual Lobby Night event, and months of hard nosed defense of our scope of practice! It is hard work, but great people on the team, and very worthwhile.

The house has been coming along fairly well. There's been some repair work but it seems mostly under control. My family came out for Thanksgiving and it was nice that the 7 of us didn't have to cram into my Grandmother's 1 bedroom duplex for the first time... maybe ever. Just sent out some cute little holiday cards and hopefully will find the energy to get the tree up today. Wintertime always zaps me a bunch. Been off running since Thanksgiving thanks to a repetitive strain on my IT band that's still aching and I haven't made it back to the pool yet either. Maybe someday I'll find that teleporter or a pause button to get a few extra hours a day, but until then the busy-ness just keeps coming :)